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Leptospirosis deaths climb to 167–DoH

Posted on: October 28, 2009

Leptospirosis deaths climb to 167–DoH

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 15:35:00 10/26/2009

Filed Under: Health, Diseases, Disasters (general)

MANILA, Philippines—Almost a month after storm Ondoy flooded Manila and Rizal, about 167 Filipinos have died from leptospirosis, a health official said Monday.

The country’s total number of leptospirosis cases related to the Ondoy floods alone hit 2,158 with 167 recorded deaths—a threefold increase from last year’s total cases of 769, said Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, program manager for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases division of the Department of Health (DoH).

From 177 leptospirosis cases reported between October 1 and 12, the department’s tally rose to 1,000 cases on October 15 and leaped to 1,963 on October 21.

Lee Suy said the number of cases will continue to rise over the next weeks but not in the hundreds as seen in previous weeks after the floods have subsided in Metro Manila Manila and Rizal province.

“We project that the number of leptospirosis cases will continue to rise but not as high as before where we report a rise of 400 cases per day immediately after storm Ondoy. After the floods have subsided, the risk of exposure to the bacteria was drastically reduced, too,” said Lee Suy.

Presently, DoH has not declared that the diseases was contained in flood-hit areas like Marikina although it was moving toward containment after the increase in cases as reported daily have dropped from 400 or 500 to below 100, he added.

Lee Suy warned Filipinos, even those who have been cured of leptospirosis not to wade in murky flood waters because they are not immune from the leptospirosis bacteria.

“Exposure to the bacteria previously is not a guarantee that a person will not get infected again. Even if you have been cured of the disease, you are not immune and you are at risk to get infected again once you get exposed to the bacteria in floods or from contaminated water or food,” he said.

“But we are not saying that those exposed to the bacteria are doomed to die. Once you have flu-like symptoms and have recently waded in floods, consult a doctor immediately,” said Lee Suy.

Common symptoms include flu-like and include fever, red skin rash, general weakness, headaches, muscle and joint pains, vomiting and fatigue, he added.

Leptospirosis is caused by swallowing the bacteria directly from water, absorbing it through cuts in the skin, or through food. Although the disease is commonly associated with rat urine, infection can also come from animals like cattle, pigs, horses, dogs and wild animals, said Lee Suy.

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